Adopting An Older Child From Foster Care

I’m a big supporter of foster care adoption, as some of you are aware, and I’m so very glad we did it because it brought us to our children. But it wasn’t all simple.

Adopting from foster care is a lot. You are at the mercy of case workers and judges. And adopting teenagers is definitely a lot. And yet, they are the age group who need it the most. Most people want a baby and who can blame them. I wanted a baby. I ultimately got one but that was sheer luck. Sad, traumatic luck.

But, back to the teenagers!

“The average age of a child in foster care is 7.7 years. While babies are often adopted very quickly, the adoption rates of children over 8 decrease significantly. When a child reaches their teens, the rate drops even more. Most children in need of adoption are between the ages of 9 and 20.” —According to Adoption Star

We did it anyway.

When we first met our oldest, he seemed like a happy little boy, living with his (then) forever family. They always seem happy and well-adjusted. But, as we all know, effectively pretending to be ok, doesn’t mean you are ok.

When we met him again, a handful of years and one failed adoption later, he was a teenager and much less cheerful. As teenagers are. We had some sibling visits (we had already adopted his brothers and sister) and we had him for a few weeks over the summer. I was so relieved when he left. I was exhausted and turns out, had no idea how to deal with a complicated teenager. But, when they asked if he could come back for Christmas, I found myself saying yes. Then when his guardian at litem told me that he had already packed his suitcase (a week out); Brian and I knew that he was more emotionally in than he was letting on. That changed everything.

Christmas was better and eventually evolved into his adoption.

Not A Simple Happily Ever After

The years were hard. Figuring out how he fit into our lives was hard. Sibling relationships were hard. And we wondered a million times if we had done the right thing.

But that wasn’t forever.

Today, we have moved past that. I couldn’t love him more and I don’t ever wonder if we did the right thing because I know we did. And I don’t mean from the angle of doing a good thing, I mean for our family. I don’t wonder if he fits into our family. I know that he does. He is and was always meant to be a Parker.

There are no guarantees with kids, no matter how they come into your life.

A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Words

There is a picture on our wall that he likes. He has taken it off the wall to look at more than once. It’s from one of our first outings together before adopting him. We went bowling. I look at it and see my three kids and their brother, as it was at the time. The three have their big Parker smiles and he has a smirk, at best.

Anyway, he had the picture the other day and I joked that was before he started humoring me with big smiles for pictures. He said that was his smile. I didn’t really understand what he meant but I guess that was all he could muster. Because then he said…

“Think about how my life had been up to that point. What did I have to smile about?”

That, my friends, is just plain messed up.

No kid should ever feel like that.

So yes, adopting a teenager from foster care is challenging. And it’s intimidating. And exhausting (like all parenting is). And you might wonder if it’s worth it? It is if you can give a kid a reason to smile. Is there anything better than that?

But make no mistake, they will give you a reason to smile, too!

Adult man at Christmas time

Have you considered adopting or fostering? Or have you done so already? I would love to hear your thoughts and experiences!

Related posts: Ten Things You May Or May Not Know About Foster Care Adoption. Adoption In Television. I Assure You I Couldn’t Love My Children More


4 thoughts on “Adopting An Older Child From Foster Care

  1. Because we had only one child of our own, when our daughter was about six, we considered fostering. We attended a meeting that explained the ins and outs and the regulations at that time. Hubs and decided it wasn’t for us. I truly admire people who do foster and adopt and I can’t imagine how tough it would be adopting a teenager. It looks and sounds like it all turned out well for your son and your family, Emily.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s